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The subject is coffee!
The subject is coffee!
Posted October 7, 2004 6:25pm
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Wow. Talk about neglected. :)

Sorry, so sorry for the six month break from CoffeeKid's CafeTalk. No excuses offered.

But it's time to update again. So much is going on, I'll try to serialize this a bit to make it FRESH for the next few weeks.

SCAA Atlanta and stuff
Well, I did attend the SCAA's show in Atlanta this year, and it was packed. Many updates made it to CoffeeGeek including a bunch of photo essays. Some personal observations from the show:

  • Vibe the overall vibe was pretty good, all things considered, though maybe I'm just getting old hat at this thing - the show seems to gravitate more towards convenience gizmos and such. There were so many super automatics and "one cup pod coffee makers" (with proprietary, $$$ pods) that it was making me depressed at times. But with the Barista Guild making waves, and the United States Barista Championship, there was plenty of quality in evidence as well.

  • Comfort a weird topic, but yeah, I'll include it. Jeanette made the trip with me, and while we broke up as a couple two months before, we've remained friends. Still, having her at the show, and in the same hotel room was a bit weird. And she was supposed to write a series of articles, which I still haven't seen yet (hint hint)

  • New Stuff other than the aforementioned abundance of pod style machines, there wasn't much in the way of new stuff. Well, here and there, there was; two things that caught my eye - the new revamped Reneka Techno machine for super high end home use, and the new 'lectronics that La Marzocco was exhibiting (but still, some six months later, aren't selling or manufacturing yet). Nuova Simonelli was also showing off a new machine with new 'lectrics that seemed impressive in description, but I haven't had the opportunity to actually use it yet.

Coffee, coffee, coffee
I was at NASCORE in Portland three weeks ago, covering the show and judging in the Pacifc Northwest Barista Championship (Kyle Larson's espressos in the competition are pictured above), and I was given six different coffees by some top end roasteries to take home and try. All were espresso blends. I had Hair Bender from Stumptown Coffee Roasters; Dancing Goats from Batdorf and Bronson, two different blends (Paladino "Competition Blend" and a new experimental organic blend) from Zoka Coffee, Vito's Blend from Doma Coffee, and another blend from a roaster I can't recall at the moment.

When I got back to Vancouver, I put these coffees up against Black Cat from Intelligentsia Coffee Roasters, and two blends from JJ Bean, at JJ's cupping and training room in Vancouver. Five or six folks from JJ did the espresso tasting with me. And what were the results? I can't totally recall the order, but here goes:

  • Dancing Goats, Batdorf and Bronson
  • Semi-Organic Palamino blend, JJ Bean
  • Experimental Organic Blend, Zoka Coffee
  • Vito's Blend, Doma Coffee
  • Competition Paladino Blend, Zoka Coffee
  • Palamino Organic Blend, JJ Bean
  • Hair Bender, Stumptown
  • Black Cat, Intelligentsia

The fact that Black Cat finished last was a shocker. It was also something I brought up with Doug Zell not three days later, when I was back in Seattle for the SCAA's fall meetings. I hesitate telling Doug when I think his coffee is lacking a bit, because he takes it quite personally (which is both good and bad); but I told him (even told him my hesitations). He was surprised and a bit shocked, but also said that Black Cat's about to see much better days - which means about now. A new supply of one of the core ingredients has come in, and it's cupping very well.

Jumping Committees
Speaking of the SCAA's fall committee meeting, I attended. I was on the consumer marketing committee, but the opportunity came up to "jump ship" as it were and go over to the USBC Committee (barista championship committee) and I took the leap. I still have to write a letter to the committee to be formally recognized and to join; I hope it will be a cinch. I'm writing the letter now.

Jumping committees is seen as a bit risky and can be interpreted as a slap in the face at your old committee. I don't mean it that way at all, but I think my strengths and passions are better put towards the USBC; I have felt, for lack of a better word, frustrated at times regarding where the Consumer Marketing Committee was going. This year, we didn't even have a meeting room - we got bumped out of the scheduled room we have, which I thought was a bit strange. I participated all weekend, but then had to tell Kimberly Easson (my committee chair) I was jumping committees on the last day, which was a bit tough for me. I feel like I'm letting her down a bit.

Wrap up
I have so much more to write about, like some new amazing coffees I've tried, experiences with Canada Customs over getting some machines from KitchenAid, and even ongoing testing of some nifty new coffee appliances, but I'll save those for next time. But... here's some random coffee photos snapped on the smart camera over the last few months.

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What TF?
This rather stupid billboard for Van Houte coffees. Says 'What other coffees aspire to be". What, they aspire to be crappy, weak, robusta laden supercheep beans?
Trivsel Stainless
A pretty cool (and well made) espresso cup at Ikea. $6 Cdn - not too bad. Nice internal shape too
Cupping Coffee
Cupping coffee at JJ Bean. Actually, evaluating espresso.
Once upon a time, this "style" of glass cup sold for $60 for four at Eatons. Now it's $25 at Superstore in Vancouver, for 8 cups.
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Mo Ikea
$2.50 each for a fairly decent porcelain tulip shaped espresso cup. A bargain.
He needs help
This guy needed help at the Futile Shop checkout. He needs more help with that coffee / "espresso" maker!
Pro line
The Pro Line makes it to Vancouver, in the shape of the coffee maker, grinder, and for now, a toaster. No espresso machine yet.
The Bay has this grinder, which I also have in the testing lab at the moment. The Bay's price is actually higher than the Cdn MSRP at the moment.
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Bubble Drinks
Matt at JJ Bean makes a mountainous huge cappuccino. I think it was a joke drink. It is, isn't it? :)
Matt! Again!
Matt got a lil' present and decided to wear it while he's working.
Amanda, one of the supervising staff at JJ, having some fun.
Matt Rock Star
Some of Matt's pours at JJ Bean today.
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